Deep-sea ferromanganese nodules accumulate trace elements from seawater and underlying sediment porewaters during the growth of concentric mineral layers over millions of years. These trace elements have the potential to record past ocean geochemical conditions. The goal of this study was to determine whether Fe mineral alteration occurs and how the speciation of trace elements responds to alteration over ~3.7Ma of marine ferromanganese nodule (MFN) formation, a timeline constrained by estimates from 9Be/10Be concentrations in the nodule material. We determined Fe-bearing phases and Fe isotope composition in a South Pacific Gyre (SPG) nodule. Specifically, the distribution patterns and speciation of trace element uptake by these Fe phases were investigated. The time interval covered by the growth of our sample of the nodule was derived from 9Be/10Be accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS). The composition and distribution of major and trace elements were mapped at various spatial scales, using micro-X-ray fluorescence (μXRF), electron microprobe analysis (EMPA), and inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS). Fe phases were characterized by micro-extended X-ray absorption fine structure (μEXAFS) spectroscopy and micro-X-ray diffraction (μXRD). Speciation of Ti and V, associated with Fe, was measured using micro-X-ray absorption near edge structure (μXANES) spectroscopy. Iron isotope composition (δ56/54Fe) in subsamples of 1-3mm increments along the radius of the nodule was determined with multiple-collector ICP-MS (MC-ICP-MS). The SPG nodule formed through primarily hydrogeneous inputs at a rate of 4.0±0.4mm/Ma. The nodule exhibited a high diversity of Fe mineral phases: feroxyhite (δ-FeOOH), goethite (α-FeOOH), lepidocrocite (γ-FeOOH), and poorly ordered ferrihydrite-like phases. These findings provide evidence that Fe oxyhydroxides within the nodule undergo alteration to more stable phases over millions of years. Trace Ti and V were spatially correlated with Fe and found to be adsorbed to Fe-bearing minerals. Ti/Fe and V/Fe ratios, and Ti and V speciation, did not vary along the nodule radius. The δ56/54Fe values, when averaged over sample increments representing 0.25-0.75Ma, were homogeneous within uncertainty along the nodule radius, at -0.12±0.07‰ (2sd, n=10). Our results indicate that the Fe isotope composition of the nodule remained constant during nodule growth and that mineral alteration did not affect the primary Fe isotope composition of the nodule. Furthermore, the average δ56/54Fe value of -0.12‰ we find is consistent with Fe sourced from continental eolian particles (dust). Despite mineral alteration, the trace element partitioning of Ti and V, and Fe isotope composition, do not appear to change within the sensitivity of our measurements. These findings suggest that Fe oxyhydroxides within hydrogenetic ferromanganese nodules are out of geochemical contact with seawater once they are covered by subsequent concentric mineral layers. Even though Fe-bearing minerals are altered, trace element ratios, speciation and Fe isotope composition are preserved within the nodule.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We thank the science team, crew, and Chief Scientist Steven D’Hondt of the KNOX02RR cruise for access to the South Pacific Gyre. We thank Tristan Horner for helpful discussions of the manuscript; Lindsey Briscoe for measuring the XRD pattern of feroxyhite (Characterization Facility, University of Minnesota, which receives partial support from NSF through the MRSEC program); Fred Davis for measuring the elemental composition by electron microprobe (Electron Microprobe Laboratory, University of Minnesota), Shahida Quazi for assistance at ALS BL 10.3.2, and Terhuhiko Kashiwabara for discussions and reference spectra for V and La, Emmanuel Ponzevera, Yoan Germain and Celine Liorzou for technical assistance at Ifremer-IUEM, and Purdue University’s PRIME Lab for 10 Be AMS measurements. The Advanced Light Source is supported by the Director, Office of Science , Office of Basic Energy Sciences , of the U.S. Department of Energy under Contract No. DE-AC02-05CH11231. O.R. and B.G. thank funding sources from ANR-10-LABX-19-01 and Institut Carnot – EDROME. Appendix A